Friday, 25 July, 2008

An Inspiring Math Story

I happened to come across an interesting math story that I like to share.

It about a young German boy who did math in a unique and creative way, by simply using simple principles.

I hope that with this inspiring story, anyone reading this story will find math a very amazing creation of mankind.

Here's the story ...

There was a boy in a class studying math with, of course, a math teacher. This boy's name is Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777 - 1855). One day this math teacher presented a challenging mathematical problem to the class where Gauss is in.

The math problem is to add up all the numbers starting from 1 and ending with 100.

Every students picked up a piece of paper and started to add up the numbers one after another from number 1 onwards.

Within a short span of time, while his fellow students were still struggling, Gauss went forward to the teacher and submitted his answer.

That action surprised not only his math teacher but the whole class. But that is not all.....

The interesting thing is that his answer is correct.

How did he do that so fast?

He came out a different way of analysing the mathematical problem. Instead of the normal way of adding the first numbers onwards, Gauss looked at the problem with a different angle.

What he did was to split the range of number from 1 to 100 into two equal halves, 1 to 50 and 51 to 100. He noticed that if he flipped the last half to start from 100, and adding it the two ranges together, he will get something stunting.

He discovered that by adding the first pair, 1 + 100, he got an answer of 101. For the second pair, 2 + 99, he again got the same answer 101.

This answer of 101 was still valid for the rest of the number pair addition. And since there were 50 pairs of numbers, the final total is 101 x 50 which gave Gauss an answer of 5050.

The way he perceived and analyzed the mathematical problem surprised everyone.

From this story, you can see that math is a very interesting subject that tests the limitation of human mind. With different approaches, math solving can achieve a new dimension completely different from convention. This shows that math can be fun and exciting if we choose it to be.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting incident. My maths teacher told me the story about 14 years back. Thanks for sharing.